Host response and molecular variation in respiratory and enteric virus infections

​Matti Waris, PhD, Adjunct professor
Senior Reserach Fellow, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku
Biochemist, Clinical Virology, Turku University Hospital

Respiratory virus infections cause an enormous disease burden to human population. There are no vaccines or specific treatments for most of them. Although respiratory virus infections usually are mild and self-limiting, they can be severe and life-threatening for infants, elderly, and individuals with impaired immunity. In addition, they are often associated with complications caused by opportunistic bacterial infections.

This research investigates the epidemiology and disease associations of circulating strains of clinically important respiratory and enteric viruses. Specific studies have focused on respiratory syncytial -, rhino -,  entero- and adenoviruses. We continuously develop and improve molecular diagnostic tools for virus groups, individual strains, and their phylogenetic analysis. We are developing microarray technique with upconverting phosphor reporters for multiplex determination of antiviral antibodies. Host responses are investigated profiling the expression of innate inflammatory markers and interferon-inducible proteins, such as anti-viral MxA protein.

We are continuously pursuing to establish improved total picture of the infections by using extensive differential diagnostics, molecular typing, determination of host response parameters, and well-studied clinical outcome of the patients. Using the knowledge from these studies, we are aiming to generate new insights for the treatment and prevention of respiratory virus infections.

Associated projects:
• Innate immunity in rhinovirus infections
• Application of MxA assay in clinical diagnotics
• Epidemiology of respiratory virus infections
• AIRBORNE: Assessing hospital-aquired infection risks to healthcare workers from patients infected with aerosol-transmitted pathogens

Research is carried out in local and international collaboration with laboratory and clinical professionals.

Recent publications: